UNITED NATIONS: Unveiling the 2023 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

Written by Dr. Florence Akano

The 2023 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF 2023) will be held in New York from July 10th to July 19th, 2023, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The forum will encompass various sessions, including the three-day ministerial segment from July 17th to July 19th, which is part of the High-level Segment of ECOSOC. The overarching theme for the HLPF 2023 will be “Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels.”

The primary objective of the forum is to provide a platform for participants to discuss effective and inclusive recovery measures to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Additionally, the forum aims to explore actionable policy guidance for the comprehensive implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs at all levels.

In addition to its focus on the integrated, indivisible, and interlinked nature of the SDGs, the HLPF in 2023 will conduct in-depth reviews of Goals 6 on clean water and sanitation, 7 on affordable and clean energy, 9 on industry, innovation, and infrastructure, 11 on sustainable cities and communities, and 17 on partnerships for the Goals.

As part of the HLPF, several special sessions and events will take place. These include the following events on SDG localization:

  1. “Transformation from the ground up: Acting at local level” on July 11th.
  2. “SDGs in focus: SDG 11 and interlinkages with other SDGs – Sustainable cities and communities” on July 13th.

There will also be a series of high-level and side events on SDG localization, including:

  • “How local governments are using SDGs to rethink the city” on July 10th.
  • “The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2023: Special Edition — A High-Level Event Call to Action” on July 10th.
  • “Multi-level governance for SDG implementation: The role of Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) and Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs)” on July 11th.
  • “Transformation from the ground up: Acting at local level” on July 11th.
  • “Launch of the 2023 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (HLPF 2023 Side Event)” on July 11th.
  • “Sixth Local and Regional Governments Forum on the 2030 Agenda” on July 12th.
  • “Launch of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report 2023” on July 12th.
  • “Local 2030 Coalition Special Event on Multilevel Governance and Financing to Accelerate SDG Localization” on July 12th.
  • “Building Sustainable Cities: Harnessing the Power of Local Communities to Withstand Crises” on July 12th.
  • “SDGs in focus: SDG 11 and interlinkages with other SDGs – Sustainable cities and communities” on July 13th.
  • “Rescuing SDG 11 for a Resilient Urban Planet” on July 14th.
  • “SDG 11: Progress, challenges, lessons learned and tools for sustainable transformation of cities” on July 14th.
  • “Perspectives from major groups and other stakeholders at the mid-point of the SDGs: Towards inclusive transformation” on July 14th.

A total of 39 countries, along with the European Union, will present their voluntary national reviews (VNRs) during the forum. The countries presenting their VNRs include Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Central African Republic, Comoros, Chile, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Guyana, Iceland, Ireland, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Maldives, Mongolia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, St Kitts & Nevis, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia.

In addition to the review of SDGs and the VNRs, the HLPF in July will also support the mid-term review of the implementation of the SDGs and the preparations for the 2023 SDG Summit, which will be convened under the auspices of the General Assembly in September 2023.

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), representing organized civil society in the European Union, will actively participate in the HLPF. A delegation led by EESC President Oliver Röpke will attend from July 17th to July 19th. As an official advisory body, the EESC aims to advocate for sustainable policies aligned with EU priorities and champion the voice of European citizens. The committee has established key objectives for its participation, including policy advocacy, knowledge sharing, partnerships, and monitoring progress. The EESC seeks to influence the global sustainable development agenda, facilitate knowledge exchange, build strategic alliances, and assess the progress of EU policies in achieving the SDGs. To contribute to this, the EESC has prepared a comprehensive document as a contribution to the EU Voluntary Reviews.

A special event co-hosted by the EESC and the European Commission will take place on July 19th, focusing on the EU Voluntary Reviews. This event will provide a unique opportunity for constructive dialogue on the EU’s sustainable development journey.

The HLPF 2023 will feature various high-level and side events that concentrate on SDG localization. These events will address topics such as the role of local governments in utilizing the SDGs for city development, the progress and challenges of SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), and multilevel governance for SDG implementation through voluntary national and local reviews.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2023: Special Edition, released in conjunction with the HLPF, presents a call to action based on a candid assessment of the SDGs using the latest available data and estimates. While acknowledging the existing gaps and urging intensified efforts, the report emphasizes the potential for success through strong political will, technological advancements, resource mobilization, and knowledge sharing. The global community is urged to reinvigorate progress towards achieving the SDGs, especially considering the challenges posed by the climate crisis, conflicts, a weak global economy, and the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report underscores the urgent need for action to rescue the SDGs and ensure meaningful progress for all, with a particular focus on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations.

The HLPF 2023 will serve as a crucial platform for global stakeholders to collaborate, advocate, and promote sustainable development, with the ultimate goal of creating a more resilient, inclusive, and greener future.

About the author

Dr. Florence Akano

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